Miscellaneous Stories: Thanksgiving Tradition

The lady at the counter says, “I hope you’re not eating that for Thanksgiving!” I coolly replied, “Oh, no. My daughter loves these things. I always keep them in for her.” (a bold-faced lie)

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My family has always celebrated Thanksgiving, but Christmas was always our big holiday. I’m always welcome at my older sister Janice’s house every year. She has a big house and we refer to her place as Holiday Headquarters. There was one year many years ago when I was invited to go to my other sister Gabrielle’s house all the way down in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Back then I was newly divorced, and I just didn’t feel like making the drive all the way down there. My daughter was little then and with her Mom and that side of the family for Thanksgiving. I was just happy that my ex-wife was out of the house and out of my life for that matter. I was looking forward to a day of listening to music, watching movies and eating and drinking. I like to be alone. I’m a very social animal, and I get my energy from those around me, but I just wanted a day of sweet nothing and solitude.

I lived in Woodbury, NJ back then. I drove over to the local convenient store and picked up a box of frozen Ellio’s Pizza. It’s a cheap and tasty treat I have loved since I was a lad. The lady at the counter says, “I hope you’re not eating that for Thanksgiving!” I coolly replied, “Oh, no. My daughter loves these things. I always keep them in for her.” (a bold-faced lie)

That night I happily sat on my sofa watching some cool movies, drinking Ketel One vodka and tonics, and eating my delicious Ellio’s Pizza. I had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. I was grateful to have a family that cared about me and most of all that little Lorelei was in the world.

So I joked around with my sisters about that day, and of course they felt bad for me. They didn’t want me eating frozen pizza and drinking liquor by myself on Thanksgiving, but that’s what I really wanted to do that day. So it’s sort of become a family joke every year for Thanksgiving. It came up again this year, when I declined my sister’s invitation. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her, but I’ve seen her a lot lately, and my parents have passed, so what’s the point? Once the main anchors of a family die, usually the children retreat to their own little families. She understood and we’ll all get together at her annual holiday party in December at Holiday Headquarters.

I went to the Midtown Diner and had a huge breakfast at the counter. Scrambled eggs, bacon and french toast. It’s too much food, but I crushed it all and it was delicious. I went back to my house and did some writing. Lorelei escaped the clutches of having to spend Thanksgiving with her mother. She went to her boyfriend’s mother’s house. She’s a hard-core vegan and made some really creative dishes. I’m glad she’s happy and I’m sure they were glad to have her there for the holiday.

I finished a chapter, and wanted to get something to eat around 4:30. I left the house and walked down to South street. Everything was closed, but I didn’t feel like going into Walgreens where I’d have to get something to heat up or bake in the oven. Then I looked to the left and remembered there was a new 7-Eleven a block away.

I stopped in and was surprised at all of the people in there buying stuff. Maybe I could start a little Thanksgiving club with them. They could come over with a load of 7-Eleven food and I’d supply the booze. I picked up some things and headed back to the house.

The city was deserted. Dark and eerily quiet because everybody was off doing their family things. I got home, went to my desk and fired up an old episode of Columbo on Netflix. I poured myself a vodka and club soda. I don’t drink Ketel One anymore at home. Too expensive. I only have it out now in a martini, straight up with a twist. My current brand is Platinum X7 by Sazerac. A 1.75 bottle is $20. My favorite thing to mix it with is Polar club soda with lemon that I buy by the liter at Walgreens. I tore open the small bag of Lay’s potato chips. Then opened the box that contained the quarter pound 7-Eleven hot dog, and spread mustard along its length.

Changed it up this year! Wanted to send a pic to all of my sisters but decided against it.

A man who can sit in a room alone and be satisfied is a man that has found inner peace.” – My Dad

 

 

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Sun Stories: Haley – 2016 to Present – Lightning in a Bottle

“Now with what I’m describing you’d think that this young lady is a perfect little angel.

Quite the contrary.”

I got a text from Achilles (See: Sun Stories: Achilles, 2016 to Present – The Bronze God) He asked if I could work open to close today. That’s 10am to 8pm, on your feet, running around the salon for 10 hours. I agreed, because I have a flexible schedule at my other job, and I think he may have come down with a cold. On top of that it’s been thunder storming all day, and he probably doesn’t want to come out in this mess.

So I’m at the salon, and it’s a pretty quiet day. You’d think more people would come out to tan on a rainy day, but it’s the other way around. They come when it’s warm and sunny out.

I’m just standing behind the counter writing my blog on the computer. When in walks this cute 19-year-old girl. Raven hair, blue eyes and fair skin. She says my name, and I do a double take.

“Don’t you recognize me because I’m not tan?”

“Oh my god! Haley!”

I come from around the counter and she goes in for a big hug.

“I missed you!”

From mid April until the end of August is our busy season at the salon. We can’t provide the level of service that our customers deserve with only one person on shift at night. So Achilles usually will bring on a second person at night to ease the flow of clients. Haley had been working every summer at the salon since she was 16 years old.

Haley has a sister Elisa that’s a year younger that she is. She comes into tan but never worked here. Elisa’s cute, but Haley’s beautiful. There’s a difference.

Haley was also a straight A student last year in her senior year. Beauty and brains. A deadly combination. She wants to eventually go to medical school to become a doctor!

So Achilles brought her back again last summer to help out at night. I wondered how that was going to go. Me, a middle-aged man working with a senior in high school.

Well I’ll tell you how it went. It went fantastic! Working with Haley from day one was glorious. She’d been doing the job for two years prior, so she knew everything about the salon. We ran the place like a well oiled machine. I’m driving in the sales. Haley picks up on how I ask every customer if they need lotion or protective eyewear. She starts pitching it to every client thereafter. She’s like lightning when she works. Super fast and really efficient. She knows exactly when to put the laundry in the washer and stays on top of the time when to get it into the dryer. (I love her South Philly accent. Instead of saying “towels”, she pronounces it “tales”. It is to adorable!

“I’m so sick of these tales! I hate the color and they’re too hard to fold and they don’t fit under the counter right!” she would say.

Working with Haley was a total riot. We would take care of the clients but had a lot of fun working together.

On time this weirdo douchebag guy comes in to tan. Haley asks him what kind of bed he wants to tan in. (Stand up unit, or lay down)

He says: “How about a four-poster.”

Haley is silent but I look at him with a hard eye and say: “Dick. She’s in High School.”

Shut that fucker right down.

I see Haley like a daughter or a niece. Gotta protect the young ladies around us.

I told Achilles about the incident and he also gave them his own personal warning to the guy. I don’t know what he said or did, but we never had a problem with this asshole again.

One day told her that out of everyone I knew, she and my daughter Lorelei, are the only people I know who don’t use profanity, which I find very refreshing. Haley responded by saying that she doesn’t curse around parents. (Apparently this is the same story with my kid.) I like that!

Speaking of her parents, she said her dad is a bit of a curmudgeon, but her mom is a total sweetheart. Her mother would always drive up to the salon at closing in her truck with their dog and pick up little Haley. Her mom is kind of hot. But I love that she would always come and get Haley and make sure her daughter got home safe!

Haley went down the shore after graduating from high school with honors and went to work as a server at Mack’s Pizza in Wildwood, NJ for the summer. She told me they originally want her to work a bunch of hours but she told them she was down the shore to have fun, relax and enjoy her summer. She was still making around $800 a week slinging slices to the hungry tourists.

“It’s the most money I ever made at a job in my life!” she squealed to me today.

Currently she is in college and working part time at an Italian restaurant in South Philly.

Now with what I’m describing you’d think that this young lady is a perfect little angel.

Quite the contrary.

Sure, she’s a great student and is a really well-behaved kid. But technology is much better than when I was a teenager. She has a fake ID that looks exactly like a DMV issued drivers license that says she’s 21. She showed it to me and it looks better than anything I’ve ever seen. That’s so she can get served and go into bars and nightclubs.

She’s a good girl and has a nice guy she is seeing, and she behaves herself. They play it cool and are careful when she and her friends go out. They mostly just like to hang out somewhere and drink beer like teenagers have done for decades.

I love the paradox of the brilliant, beautiful student that has a touch of. I can trust that in a woman.

I remember she would bring her laptop into work and do her homework sometimes. The customers didn’t know what she was doing, and could care less. They just want to hop into an available bed and get their tanning session, and get on with their day. But I know Achilles doesn’t like any of his employees focusing on anything but the clients and what’s going on in the salon. I get it. It’s his business and the salon is his livelihood. But Haley is such a good student with high aspirations, and I never said anything because she’d been working there off and on for three years. So I didn’t care what she was doing because at the time I didn’t know what his arrangement was with Haley after all of that time.

Besides she was always all business when it came to being on point in the salon every night. She made my life easier and I absolutely loved working with this lovely, lively girl. She’s so full of life and apparently I’m good at making her laugh.

When she worked the Saturday shift, (Which is from 11am to 6pm) sometimes her  classmate, Lia would come in and hang on the couch and keep her company. I get it. It’s a 7 hour shift and teenagers get bored easily. She’s a pretty black girl and she’d sit on the sofa and hang with Haley, bring her coffee and snacks to pass the time because weekends are slower than nights during the week. I mean, I’ve had friends come and hang at the salon and chat with me while I’m working. On any given night, Church will swing in and hang for an hour until we go to the bar after I close up shop. (See: Church – 2012 to Present – Brand Ambassador)

But Achilles found out this black girl was hanging out on Saturdays and wasn’t happy with it. Again… it’s a business and his livelihood and didn’t want a bunch of kids hanging around in his salon not doing anything. I get it. He’s right, but I went in once on a Saturday to make sure everything was cool, and to tan. (I like to tan on days I don’t work. It just feels better) I had the pleasure of meeting Lia. She’s a lovely young woman who has been accepted to Yale!

Yes. I said Yale. You don’t get into Yale being a crazy reckless youth. This girl is going to go on to do great things in her life. She’s sweet, charming, and obviously very intelligent and focused on her future.

So my girl Haley surrounds herself with great people and I’m really proud of her. She gives me hope for the future youth of America!

Oh, and she has the exact same birthday as my daughter, Lorelei! Haley is 11/17/97 and Lor is 11/17/96. Two  Scorpios. Don’t mess with my girls or you’ll get stung!

I was so happy to see my former co-worker today. It made my 10 hour shift on my feet running around on a very rainy day just a bit sunnier. Haley is a ray of light that I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with and have in my life.

Oh… one more thing. Haley isn’t on ANY social media. Just doesn’t see the point of it. Hope!

Seeing her today inspired me to write about her, and I am now going to publish another piece about our adventures at the tanning salon. I’ll give you a little hint: While we were working together we came up with official rules for the salon, based on some of the stuff Achilles would lay on me about how to run the salon. We also created lists of clients we loved and hated. But the funniest list we made was the “Things that Annoy Us.” You may not get all of them, and I will explain what they mean in this future post. But if you’ve worked in retail or the service industry, you should be able to relate.

I love Haley, and didn’t realize how much I missed her smile and laughter until today!

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie Thinks Witches Are Stealing His Semen

In fall 1975, David Bowie went into the studio in Los Angeles and made Station To Station, one of the best albums of his career. It saw him transition from playing conventional if fantastic rock and roll to recording a series of genre-bending masterpieces that set a template for ’80s pop and whose influence is still being felt decades later. Pretty impressive, considering he was doing so much coke at the time he later couldn’t remember recording the album at all.

According to David Buckley, the author of the book “Strange Fascination: David Bowie: The Definitive Story,” Bowie’s diet at the time consisted of cocaine, peppers and milk, and he lived in “a state of psychic terror.” Interviews published in Playboy and Rolling Stone depicted Bowie surrounding himself with burning black candles and Egyptian artifacts and believing that bodies were floating past his window, witches were stealing his semen and that the Rolling Stones were sending him secret messages. He lived in fear of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, owing to his supposed practice of witchcraft. In Station To Station‘s title track, Bowie yelped, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine; I’m thinking that it must be love,” which was definitely the wrong diagnosis.

If Bowie wanted to clean up after this album, he made the wrong move by decamping to Berlin with Iggy Pop. Still, the trio of albums he recorded during this period—Low, Heroes and Lodger—honed his legacy. This trilogy along with Station To Station was cherry-picked to create a perfect soundtrack for Christiane F. We Children from Bahnhof Zoo, a German film released in 1981 that captured the harrowing lives of teenage junkies in West Berlin.

Check it out. I saw it at a midnight showing in LA in 1982. It’s great!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 8am EST.

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Clarice – Chapter 6 – Happy Birthday, Baby – Part Two

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

So it feels like we’re driving forever. I feel like I’m a million miles from the city. I really love living in center city, despite its problems. Driving through the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania this time of year, sort of bums me out. I’m just going by all of these big houses all isolated out here. It reminds me of the suburbs in South Jersey. Another depressing time in my life. I don’t like being out here. But again, I’ll be good because it’s her special day.

We finally get to the park. It’s a nice place and it’s not too cold out. It’s a pretty huge park. You can walk through it, but it actually has a road through it. So you’re not walking on any dirt paths. There’s a few people around. Mostly couples, families and people jogging or walking their dogs. Walks in the park in the winter aren’t really my cup of tea. Walks in the park anytime aren’t really my cup of tea. I’d rather be in a bar in the city, having a drink and a cig.

As we walk further into the park, I can feel a mix of anxiety and depression wash over me.

I think it was because all of the trees are bare for the winter, and I’m in a strange place.

There is actually something comforting about being in a city. I have some of my happiest memories back in Philly. I also am starting to get a very real vibe that I have to find a restroom soon. Brunch is starting to work on me. Not good.

We were out there for a while and I did see a port-o-potty out there. It almost beckoned to me off in the distance. But I just didn’t want to go in there. I figured I could make it back to the main area and find a restroom there.

During our walk through the park there was some good conversation and laughs. I also kissed her a few times. That was nice. She tells me how she’s had Bells palsy before. She feels like it has affected how her face looks and moves. I didn’t even notice anything.

Find out more here: http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/bells-palsy-topic-overview#1

But now that she’s mentioned it, I see it. Normally it clears up after a few weeks and your face goes back to normal, but it appears in her case some of the paralysis has remained. I don’t mind, because it’s hardly noticeable and she’s still attractive.

We finally get back to the beginning of the park, and I tell her I need to use the restroom. I head over to the little building, praying to God that the door isn’t locked yet. Because the sun is nearly down and it’s getting dark.

Thankfully, the door is open and I make it to the stall. It’s a huge relief when my cheeks hit the bowl, and I’m sort of glad that it’s an outdoor bathroom. I’ll leave it at that.

I return to my lady, and we walk around the main property. There is a mansion there. It really looks cool. We stroll around the property and there are some more kisses exchanged.

I have been with her for five hours now, and I’d be fine with just going home. I’m also kind of dreading waiting for the train at 69th street. She wants to take me to her house for a drink. I’m fine with that, we’ll see what happens.

Her house is quaint. She lives on the first floor, and rents out the second floor to a retired gentleman.

I make myself a vodka and ginger ale, and she’s making some sort of cosmo or something. We retire to her living room. We’re just hanging out on her couch chatting and sipping our drinks. She then gives me a tour of the house. Now, this house is pretty cozy, and I’m assuming built maybe back in the forties or fifties. But she hits the lights in her bathroom, and I am blown away. It’s been completely remodeled and redesigned. Against the back right corner is a huge glass shower, with a stone floor. The commode is across from it. In the center of the room is a huge jacuzzi type tub. Along the south wall is a huge double vanity, and get this; the floor is heated. It’s one of the greatest personal bathrooms I’ve ever seen. Had I known this before, I may have been able to hold it until I got here so I could have dropped a deuce like a king!

She said it was a present from her father. She had purchased the jacuzzi tub and then didn’t have enough money to finish her dream lavatory. She said it sat in a huge box in her bedroom for a long time, and her father kicked in a bunch of money to finish the bathroom. It’s a killer bathroom, but it’s an over improvement to the house. I can’t for the life of me understand why one older woman would want a bathroom this nice. But maybe someone out there does. I guess if it makes her happy and she spends a lot of time in the bathroom, it works. But it’s just a weird purchase. It’s obvious she doesn’t have much money.  She’s sixty-two and her daddy is still buying stuff for her house. He’s got to be well into his nineties, so maybe he doesn’t give a shit about the money at that age. I guess if I had a tub like that, I’d be in there with a bunch of booze, and get a flat screen in that bathroom.

We had another drink and hung out in her living room again. I wasn’t getting a vibe that sex was happening, and frankly I didn’t care. It shouldn’t be something I was wondering about, or deciding if I think it should happen. It should be a spontaneous celebration of how we feel about each other. And I’m just not feeling it.

She volunteers to drive me home. I am overjoyed that I don’t have to wait at 69th street station tonight. It doesn’t take as long as I thought it would, and soon I am on my street in front of my building. We kiss goodnight and I thank her for the ride, and for choosing me to spend her 62nd birthday with her.

She drives off. Tomorrow she’ll discover the black and pink scarf I hid in her dashboard. It’s wrapped in a little black bag. Just a little something extra for her birthday.

But, I don’t really want to go out with her again.

 

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Annabelle – Chapter 3 -First Date

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

It was a hot day in July of 2013. I remember that summer being especially humid. I didn’t want to get all sweaty before my date with Annabelle. So I took a taxi up to the Barnes Museum. But sadly, many of those cabs are still hot as hell in the summertime. I went inside, told them I was on the guest list and that I was waiting for my plus one.  The girl at the counter tells me it’s cooler downstairs. I head down to cool off and dry out. I was heavier back then, (36 waist!) so maybe that’s why I was sweating more. I get some water and have a seat.

I get a text from Annabelle that she has arrived. I tell her to just let them know who she is and they’ll let her in. She comes downstairs to get me. She is wearing her hair up, and has a black top and matching black slacks that just cover her knees. Is that called Capri pants? She is also wearing heels so she towers over me. I don’t care. I’m Phicklephilly. I cast a great shadow across this city. She goes to use the restroom, and I chill out looking at little models of what the building looked like when they were designing it. The are all in different stages under glass.  I’m looking at one of the tiny models very closely when she returns. She comes up behind me and I just feel her presence. I turn around and she is over me looking at what I’m looking at. I tell her it felt like I was being stalked by a raptor from Jurassic Park. She laughs and does this little impression of a raptor. I find this funny and ask her if she liked the film  Jurassic Park. (One of my favorite movies)

“I love Jurassic Park.”

“Okay….okay” I reply.

We go upstairs and into the main ballroom. They are having a little first Friday celebration. A live band plays some sweet jazz. For whatever reason we’re both starving. I get us high top with a pair of chairs, and tell her I’ll go fetch us some snacks and wine.

I head over to the bar and all they have is overpriced everything and some cheese and chips. It’s the Barnes for God’s sake. Can’t they afford any decent chow for the guests? I gather up two bags of chips some cheese and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m not even gone for five minutes, and some old codger has already swooped in and started talking to my date. This guy is easily twenty years older than me. I approach, drop the food on the table and hand Annabelle her wine.

“Really dude? I was gone all of five minutes. Get your own girl.” I joke.

We chat with the old guy. He seems charming and harmless. After a bit, Annabelle and I go over to tour the collection. Apparently, that wasn’t part of the passes I was given. I simply drop a name and they let us in. I had never seen the collection before so it was a real treat for me to see what a billion dollar art collection looked like.

The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, seven by Vincent van Gogh, and six by Georges Seurat. Other European and American masters in the collection include Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Jules Pascin and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. The museum also holds several significant works by cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.

It was pretty amazing how one guy was able to collect this many fantastic, priceless pieces of art. We walk from room to room, looking at everything. At one point she says, “Out of everything in this room, which is your favorite?”  Then I would choose the one I liked the best. I would do the same to her. We did this enough times, until finally she asked me what was my favorite in the last room.

I simply pointed to her.

She smiled.

We then went downstairs to the rum tasting. We were all in a room and they gave us three different rums to try. The guy that was running the tasting really knew a lot about each rum and what made them different. But the weird part was, they were comparing the taste and look of the rum to different paintings in the collection. They had the images on a video screen on the wall. I’ve never seen this done, and I don’t even think it’s a real thing. But free rum is free rum. I remember the person talking about the mood of the paintings and the taste of the rum, and I was into it. there was a moment when my eyes drifted away from the host and onto Annabelle. I was looking at the painting and then my gaze passed over to Annabelle. I looked at her profile and neck. Was I falling for this girl? I took girls to events all of the time. What was it about this one? There’s nothing special about her really. It’s been two years since Michelle. I’m really taken with her. Has it just been too long since I’ve fallen in love that I just want that feeling again?

What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?

After the weird art/rum tasting we headed back upstairs. We probably shouldn’t have had all that wine and rum with so little food. I can handle it but it could be a bit painful for Annabelle tomorrow.

We leave the museum. It’s located in an area where it would be difficult to catch a taxi. I decide we should walk up to Spring Garden. We reach the corner and flag one down. We share the perfunctory hug. Dating’s funny. So much of it is tied to timing and ritual. I put her in the cab and ask her to text me that she has gotten home safely.

The cab rolls east into the night and as I walk back down into center city. As the city rises before me, I feel a little spring in my step.

 

 

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Sun Stories – Achilles Heel

Has Sharon finally found Achilles heel?

Achilles has had his share of challenges with his girlfriend Sharon off and on for the last ten years. There were times he wanted to just pack it in and end it. But Sharon has stood the test of time. Achilles’ only weakness.

He finished his shift at the salon, and rode his motorcycle home, just like any other Friday afternoon.

He went home and set the table in the dining room. Then he started cooking up a really nice dinner. He made the salad, grilled the veggies, cooked the steaks to perfection. He’s Greek. They can do everything.

The table was set. Candles glowed in the dimly lit room. Romantic music played softly in the background. Sharon would be home any minute. Achilles gently laid a bouquet of flowers at her place on the table.

She came through the door, to see him standing next to the table smiling. She paused, and then saw the flowers at her place.

“What did you do?” she said accusingly, as if he had done all of this because he done something bad.

Sharon approached the table. Achilles continued to smile. Beyond the flowers was a small black velvet box.

She gasped.

“Open it…” he said calmly.

With trembling hands, Sharon picked up the tiny vessel. Glancing up at him as she slowly opened the box, revealing a beautiful diamond engagement ring.

He proposed.

She said yes.

And they lived happily ever after. (Fingers crossed!)

Yea… Achilles is getting married!

 

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Michelle – Chapter 13 – Domestic Bliss and a Happy New Year

Is that a picture of my ass on that wall?

2008 was an amazing year. Barak Obama was elected President, The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, and Michelle was my girlfriend. That’s a hat trick if there ever was one.

Michelle was one of several people who got laid off while the company we were working for was once again trying to figure out what it wanted to be. (Print going bankrupt again!) I remember the day it happened she went out and bought me an Ipod for my birthday. I was very grateful and it was a wonderful and thoughtful gift. I love music and I couldn’t believe how technology could put a thousand songs into something the size of a pack of gum. It’s pound for pound the best gift anyone has ever given me, and I don’t like presents. I’d always rather give that receive.

Michelle started working as a hostess at a local restaurant. She hated it because now she had to stand there and watch people do the very thing that she and I enjoyed doing. She also took a job at a local retail store here in center city. Looking back on that now, that had to be tough on her. She went from making good money at a dot.com to being on her feet all day and night and doing something she wasn’t even interested in. She did finally get a good gig with a great company. Better than when she worked with me at the publication. It was a non-profit that was at the forefront of organ donation. This job would serve her well and help catapult her into a great career in the future!

She was fed up with her bitch faced, passive aggressive roommate, and I think that chick was leaving when the lease was up anyway. I wanted to move to Philly and get out of living in Pennsauken, NJ. So with us being in love, we decided to get a place together. That normally had been the kiss of death for me, because I like my alone time. But we really got along and I figured we’d be alright.

We got a third floor two bedroom apartment in Graduate Hospital, which is the neighborhood just south of Rittenhouse. Penn Medicine now runs the hospital complex down there now, but people still call the neighborhood by its former name. It was a beautiful apartment. Everything was brand new. The instructions were still in the oven. It had all of the amenities. Michelle picked a two bedroom because my daughter Lorelei stayed with me every other weekend. She did a wonderful job of finding a home for us in Philly and I love her for that. We have so many great memories in that place.

I remember the night she showed me the apartment. The realtor was late. (He is a very powerful real estate mogul in the city today) We ended up going to Ten Stone, (A neighborhood bar at 20th and South) Michelle put it to me… “Are we doing this?”

We split the rent and the bills but eventually I think I paid the utilities and half the rent because I earned more. One thing I never took into account was that the reason we had to pay $1650 a month was for the second bedroom that was for my kid that visited twice a month. In hindsight I should have paid more of the rent back then and all of the utilities. Sadly, back then I was paying $600 a month in child support to the Gorgon sister I call my ex-wife. But Michelle was always on point with pulling her share. But I know I should have always paid more.

We moved all of our stuff from both apartments in one day. It was brutal. My whole body hurt for a week after that massive move. We did it all with a single U-haul van I rented for $100. Her building charged her $100 to use the elevator for the day to move. Fuckin’ exit fees.

We didn’t care. We got plowed at Continental midtown the night before, but we made it work. We got all of our shit moved in and it was in piles of boxes all over the living room. I think we went for pizza at Lorenzo’s that night to celebrate our new life together.

It was fun living together for the most part. The holidays were coming and my daughter Lorelei and I went out and got a tree and set it up in the living room. It was so funny. It was like a Norman Rockwell moment. Michelle was working and we wanted to surprise her. My daughter and I walked from 18th and Kater to 4th and South, (Which is a hike) to pick out a tree. We found a great bushy one and proceeded to carry it by hand all the way home. I only had one pair of gloves so I gave one to baby and I wore the other one. Lorelei carried the top, (Which was lighter) and I carried the trunk. We took breaks because it was heavy, and switched gloves. It smelled so good! Pine Christmas sap! I love that smell! People were coming out of their homes and taking pictures of me and my daughter carrying our christmas tree across the city. They were going mad about our Rockwell moment. I don’t know how Lorelei felt about it but as always, she was a trooper.

We all decorated it and it looked beautiful. Michelle had lots of great ornaments that either she or her mother used to stress about. I don’t remember why. Maybe because there was some holiday history in those ornaments. I remember later she really stressed about those ornaments. I know Michelle didn’t really give a shit because she’s like me, (no pageantry) but her mom did.

One of our favorite things to do was to sit on the loveseat in our living room and watch movies and different TV series on Netflix. Michelle’s mother had bought her a 50″ flat screen for Christmas and it was glorious. We would binge watch on the weekends. Just eat, drink wine and smoke cigarettes. Sometimes Michelle would bring out the inflatable mattress and stretch out on that on the floor. She loved that thing just to rest her beautiful body after a week of work.

Another thing we enjoyed was sitting at the kitchen counter, (resembled a bar) and we would listen to music and just chat and drink. Sometimes we’d bust out Scattergories and play that. Michelle being a former National Champion swimmer, was very competitive and didn’t like to lose. Things could get intense during those board game sessions. I actually remember her getting mad at me if I got a little far ahead. I always liked that about her. She had that champion spirit. I’d be sweet to her, but still liked whipping her ass in the game. But I never wanted girlfriend to be mad at me because I loved her so much.

On any given night you could catch us slow dancing in the living room to the sounds of Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, or Roy Orbison. It was a lovely time.

We were making so much noise one night our crazy neighbors downstairs were throwing pretzel bites over our balcony to get us turn it down! The bites were hitting the sliding glass doors, but I think secretly they wanted us to play more Johnny Mathis!

We didn’t go out and terrorize the city anymore. We watched the entire run of The Sopranos and all of Six Feet Under. I remember us both sobbing at the end of the final episode of Six Feet Under. We were both equally blown away by the show.

We even cried uncontrollably at Marley and Me. I don’t know why but we loved that movie together. (Watch it. Maybe you can explain it to me. We’re not pet owners)

It was New Years Eve, and we were just coming back from brunch, or something, and Michelle wanted to stop in a women’s apparel store called Couer. It’s on 17th around Sansom. We go in, and She’s looking at lingerie and what not and I’m just checking the place out. I get to the counter and they have this huge black and white photo. It’s a huge picture of a woman’s posterior in a thong, holding a fuzzy kitten backwards. So you see this cute cat’s face and her ass. I’m looking at it, and the photo seems familiar. It’s gorgeous and tasteful. Great ass and cute kitty.

Suddenly, I hear Michelle’s voice from behind me. “Is that MY ass?”

“Don’t we have an 8×10 of that photo from your modeling days somewhere in the apartment?”

“Oh my God! That’s me!!!”

“Wait…what?”

We tell the person working there, and we all get a good laugh. We can’t believe that giant photo is there. It’s Michelle’s delicious bum from her days as a Reinhart model. The shoot was discussed, as was the kitten and the photographer.

“He’s still here.”

“Who the photographer?” I say, puzzled.

“No. This guy.” And another lady comes walking out from the back with a big old grumpy Persian cat in her arms.

“Holy crap! That’s the little kitten in the picture?”

“Yep. He’s like ten years old now.”

We were blown away and left laughing and saying how this New Years Eve was already getting crazy. It really seemed that everything we did or touched made something happen. (That’s what happens when two people are in love and the world is open to them)

So we were invited to join a former co-worker of ours to see the fireworks and grab food down at Penn’s Landing for New Years Eve. It was a bitter cold night. (We’re talking teens) It was impossible to get a taxi, and UBER and Lyft did not yet exist in Philadelphia. But I had an idea. We walked out to the corner and were trying to get a taxi, when the idea struck me. We were right near this place we always ordered pizza from. I saw one of the delivery guys and said hello. I told him I’d give him $20 if he’d drive us to Old City.

His response was, “Get in.”

We hop in the back of his pizza delivery car and off we go. He stops at a house nearby and delivers a pizza. It was surreal. Then we’re off again. He gets us to our destination. We thank him and out we go.

I think we were at the Mexican Post in Old City. We had probably been drinking before and we drank more when we got to the restaurant. It was nice to see my friend and his wife, but at that time I didn’t know any of the other people at the party. They were a bunch of IT and tech nerd types.

Just picture the creepy shy girl who looks like she could kill you in your sleep if you ate the last of her Ben & Jerry’s. Or the nerdy guy that has no table manners and chews with his mouth open. That’s just the result of some sort of parental neglect of some kind.

We finish up and head down to Penn’s Landing. It is really cold now on the Delaware River. The fireworks are great but all I can remember is the penetrating bone chilling cold. (And I’m sure Michelle feels the same)

Somehow we got a taxi back to midtown and actually went to the Midtown Diner on 18th Street. It was packed and I think I ate a cheese steak and fries. Michelle told me when she went to use the bathroom there was vomit everywhere so she used the Men’s room instead.

That’s what I hate about New Years and for that matter any other holiday where every swinging dick in the city is out drinking like they’re Duff McKagen in the 80’s. St.Patrick’s Day lasts like three weeks in this city. It makes me just want to leave the city for those  weeks.

So there isn’t much to write here about this time. We were done with going out and getting loaded every night. No more crashed parties, no more crazy events. Even though we could sit down at anytime and reminisce about all of our deviltry, it would be for nostalgia’s sake. I think our domestic time together were some of our best times. We enjoyed each others company and some of our best memories have come from that calm tranquil period in our relationship.

I think Michelle would agree.

Michelle always said: “I have so much fun with you, that when the day is over, I wish we could do it all again.”

 

 

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